Monday 26 May 2014

War Memorial Gravestones in Staincross Churchyard

During both the First and Second World Wars re-repatriation of the bodies of fallen servicemen and women was not usual.  The Unknown Soldier, entombed in Westminster Abbey represents those buried and commemorated overseas who could not come home.  For many families, deprived of a graveside at which to mourn, one solution was to add the name of their lost son (or daughter) to the family gravestone in their local churchyard.  

The Imperial War Museum's War Memorials' Archive defines a War Memorial as "any tangible object which has been erected or dedicated to commemorate those killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; who served in war or conflict; or who died whilst engaged in military service."  This includes gravestones which commemorate a casualty buried elsewhere.  There must be a clear statement on the memorial (or in a printed document such as a newspaper report from the time) that defines the commemorative purpose of the feature and reports its erection. The full wording of their definition can be found here.

Thus gravestones which include wording such as: died of wounds received in action, killed in action, fell in France, died on active service, reported missing in action, or even killed accidentally while on active service all count as War Memorials.  The wording is a "clear statement" that the purpose of recording that person's name on the gravestone is as a memorial.

Graves which are situated on the site of the burial of a casualty, such as Commonwealth War Graves, are not War Memorials, however the Barnsley War Memorials Project is also collecting their details for inclusion in the Barnsley Roll of Honour.

Staincross Churchyard contains three Commonwealth War Graves.  Interestingly there is also a grave commemorating a man who died in 1945 of "wounds received in the 1914-1918 war", James Heaton.  He doesn't have a CWGC gravestone, they were only 'issued' to men who died before 31 August 1921, but his grave reminds us of his service in the war.

In the list below, where the name is blue click to follow the link to a page with a larger photograph and more information.

 Gravestone Location
Section Row No.
Soldier's Name & Regiment
Date of Death
Reginald Harper
Durham Light Infantry

26 March 1918
Ben Naylor

21 July 1944
Alec Street

16 February 1945

George Ledger 

27 May 1940
Lionel Longbottom
Royal Engineers

14 October 1943
Norman Flower

26 May 1945
Richard Wilby
Royal Navy

7 June 1944


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